Cover image for Creating the Musée d'Orsay : the politics of culture in France
Creating the Musée d'Orsay : the politics of culture in France
Schneider, Andrea Kupfer.
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Publication Information:
University Park, Pa. : Pennsylvania State University Press, c1998.
Physical Description:
ix, 150 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
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Art Book BILKUTUP0247421 N2050.O77 S36 1998 Art Room

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The Gare d'Orsay train station, designed by French architect Victor Laloux, opened in Paris in 1900 to much fanfare. In fact, it was so beautiful that the French painter Edouard Détaille felt it would be more appropriate as a museum. Eighty-six years later, after a complex and controversial decision-making process, the French government finally transformed the station into the Musée d'Orsay, now one of the most dramatic and popular museums in Paris. This concise book presents the fascinating history of the creation of the Musée d'Orsay and the battles among the prominent politicians, curators, and historians over the architecture, collections, and concept of the museum.

Relying primarily on interviews and contemporary newspaper articles, Andrea Schneider uses her expertise in decision-making analysis to uncover a story that reveals the true power of the curatorial elite. The book focuses on the powerful role of the government in the French art world--a role that may seem remarkable to most Americans. The book also provides insight into the zealous, and often amusing, viewpoints of the French public, art critics, and politicians.

Battle lines were drawn over many questions: Should a nineteenth-century building be saved or destroyed? Should its interior be decorated in a Beaux-Arts style or in a modern design? What period should the museum encompass? Should both academic and avant-garde art be shown in the museum? How should it be organized? Is the museum concerned with the elite or the masses, with high culture or popular culture? Should there be history in an art museum? The story behind the compromises that resulted is fascinating for what it reveals about the interaction of power and culture in French society.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part 1 Narrative Transformations, Pictorial Elaborations
1 Inventing the Passion in the Late Middle AgesJames H. Marrow
2 The Passion of Mary: The Virgin and the Jews in Medieval CultureMiri Rubin
3 The Conflicted Representation of Judaism in Italian Renaissance Images of Christ's Life and PassionStephen J. Campbell
4 Exlibera meditatione: Visualizing the Sacrificial Christ in Jernimo Nadal's Annotations and Meditations on the GospelsWalter S. Melion
Part 2 Popular Spectacle, Mass Consumption
5 Coups de Thtre and the Passion for VengeanceJody Enders
6 Images of the Passion and the History of Protestant Visual Piety in AmericaDavid Morgan
7 Realizing the Passion on ScreenRobin Blaetz
8 Jesus of HollywoodAdele Reinhartz
9 Two Thousand Years of Storytelling About Jesus: How Faithful Is Pasolini's Gospel to Matthew's Gospel?Christopher Fuller
Part 3 Jewish Perspectives
10 Jewish Responses to the Passion NarrativesMarc Saperstein
11 Barnett Newman's PassionLisa Saltzman
Epilogue: A Brief History of Jewish EnmityDavid Nirenberg